It has been a great pleasure to offer a Forward to this stimulating contribution the literature on old age by the delightful William Cutting

FtF2FrontCover

Foreword – (Face the Future. Book 2. Challenges, Joy and Faith for Seniors)

 

Like many of you reading this book I am thankful for my satellite navigation system.  It is one of those advances in technology that has helped us all to move with confidence to our desired destinations.

 

However I regret the loss of maps and have happy memories of holidays in Europe with friends where a map was shared between us. We often turned it around and looked at it from different angles until someone discovered where we were going! On our journey it can be interesting, demanding and sometimes even fun getting lost.  Perhaps we are constantly in the process of finding and re-finding our sense of direction.

 

If this is true for a geographical journey perhaps it is also an analogy we can apply to other aspects of our life journey.  We shall need some kind of direction, a map, company and sources of information, wisdom and challenge.

 

I reflected on this journey analogy in my experience of working alongside a vast range of individuals and groups considering and reflecting upon the nature of age. Many fear the possibility of indignity and loss in old age. We wonder what we may become. We might reflect on the relationship between our younger and older selves. On our journey ageing offers us an opportunity – of becoming more fully ourselves:  more, and not less, individual.  Ageing, at each stage of life, can be actively enriching.

 

In order for this to happen we need to consider the nature of age and what shape age might take in us.  We might think of ourselves like wine connoisseurs laying down bottles that will improve with age; fostering in ourselves spiritual qualities that deepen and enrich over the years.  Perhaps those who age best are those who travel lightest, who can let go of some thought patterns which might have been helpful at one stage of life but need discarding when they are ill-suited to another.  A certain suppleness of spirit is needed.  A certain sense of zestfulness and adventure is also required if we are to face the ageism present in others and ourselves.  Those who study the process of growing old have puzzled over this unique feature of ageism:  that it is a prejudice against one’s future self.  It is fuelled by our inability to look at the map, ask others and embark upon the adventure of older age.

 

In all of this William Cutting proves himself a trusted companion on the journey.  This book is the second in a four part series addressing a range of topics – most specifically here the challenges, joy and faith for seniors.  It builds upon the inspiration of book one that shows us how older people can inspire and offer us wisdom.  It is honest about the difficulties and the vulnerabilities of getting older but has a tremendous sense of adventure, engagement and transformation.

 

I commend it most warmly as a trusted map from a wise man. I wish you a happy journey through its pages!

 

The Reverend Canon Dr James Woodward

6 The Cloisters, Windsor Castle, Berkshire SL4 1NJ

Canon of St Georges Windsor, author and teacher (“Valuing Age: Pastoral Ministry with Older People” SPCK 2008); www.jameswoodward.info

FrontOf2Books (2)

 

 

 

 

focus[1]

focus

 

Walking, snow falling, it is possible
to focus at various distances
in turn on separate flakes, sharply engage
the attention at several spatial points:
the nearer cold and more uncomfortable,
the farther distanced and almost pleasing.

Living, time passing, it is preferable
to focus the memory in turn upon
the more distant retrospects in order
that the present mind may retain its peace.

Yet knowing that seeing and remembering
are both of course personal illusions.

B.S. Johnson, Living by

abstract_colorful-desktop-backgrounds-500x330[1]

 

radiant

 

this blessing
God’s love
calls us
to that elsewhere world
which only lovers
eyes alight, eyes aflame
can see at all.

only those who have
self surrendered:
once, they were flecks of fire;
now, they are
the radiant sun.

 

Rumi

Book with opened pages of shape of heart

 

The French scientist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sums it up nicely in his book “The Divine Milieu.” He writes:

“God obviously has no need of the products of your busy activity since he could give himself everything without you. The only thing that concerns him, the only thing he desires intensely, is your faithful use of your freedom and the preference you accord him over the things around you. Try to grasp this: the things that are given to you on earth are given to you purely as an exercise, a ‘blank sheet’ on which you make your own mind and heart. You are on a testing ground where God can judge whether you are capable of being translated to heaven and into his presence. You are on trial so that it matters very little what becomes of the fruits of the earth, or what they are worth. The whole question is whether you have learned how to obey and how to love.”

 

feast-on-your-life[1]

Love After Love

 

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

 

Derek Walcott

Spider's web 14. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

intricate

Intricate and untraceable
weaving and interweaving,
dark strand with light:

designed, beyond
all spiderly contrivance,
to link, not to entrap:

elation, grief, joy, contrition, entwined;

shaking, changing,

forever

forming,

transforming:

all praise,

all praise to the

great web.

Denise Levertov, Web

 

IMG_9689[1]

 

delicate

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

Denise Levertov, Living

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